Last month my friend and OCD Twin Cities partner Jackie Lea Sommers posted an interview we both participated in. If you know anything about me, you know I share a lot of personal details from my life. It’s my way of giving back after overcoming my very worst obsessions; I want to help others feel less alone.
But I waited to post this interview because I still feel shy, and maybe a little ashamed, of the fact that I’m agnostic. I grew up Christian. Most people probably think I’m still Christian–people who don’t spend much time with me anymore, anyway. I don’t want others with scrupulosity to think they’re “doomed” to lose their faith, too. It’s what happened for me, and I’m really, truly happy where I am on my journey, but I know many people who would be terrified by that proposition.
Also, I don’t want pity. I don’t want anyone to pray for me, or fret over me, or talk about how I’m destined for hell now. I do want people to understand that ending up agnostic was not an easy process; I basically obsessed my way out of my faith. I can’t stop anyone from judging me, but I can hope they won’t do so. Read on, friends.
Hi Alison. I just found your blog, but I’ve also read your posts on the IOCDF blog. This was so helpful for me to read. My son is 15 and was diagnosed with OCD when he was 7. Of course he had symptoms even before then. He’s been through much treatment and done better for stretches of time; however, about two years ago his OCD morphed into scrupulosity and he began to observe religion in the strictest ways possible. We returned to treatment, but he ultimately rejected it, claiming that he was just observing his religion, it wasn’t OCD, and it was everyone else who had the problem. So, we currently wait. In the meantime, he becomes more and more religious nearly by the day. Even religious leaders have noted that he is too strict. It’s so tricky, this OCD stuff, because it is tough to tell what is true religion and what is OCD sometimes. And I do worry that he may completely reject his faith one day. Reading what you’ve said, though, I realize that ultimately what is important is that he finds a way that fulfills him – hopefully without OCD in charge. – Angie
Hi, Angie. Thanks so much for writing. I’m glad I decided to share it on my own blog–as I noted above, I still feel ashamed sometimes. My husband is fine with me being agnostic, and that’s what matters most, especially since his dad and grandfather were both pastors. (Of course what really matters is that I’m at peace with it, and I am.) You’re so right: OCD is confusing, and it is hard to tell what’s OCD and what’s a strong faith. Of course we can say on paper that the difference is that faith brings us joy and OCD brings us agony and anxiety, but when you’re going through it or witnessing a family member go through it it’s not so simple. I hope you get it figured out. Your son is so lucky to have you. Your understanding and patience mean the world.